Colorado, Pot, and Distracted Driving

4828163_mLegal recreational marijuana sales are in full swing in Colorado, and that has some people concerned that there will be a spike in driving while high. Driving under the influence of marijuana and other drugs was already illegal, and legalization of pot sales was accompanied by a stricter and more specific marijuana DUI law. As we all know, however, laws do not dictate individual behavior. Although some studies have found that driving stoned is not as dangerous as drunk driving, studies have also found that stoned drivers are more likely to become distracted and demonstrate other dangerous driving behaviors.

Stoned vs. Drunk Driving

Behaviors of drivers who are under the influence of marijuana are different to the behaviors of drunk drivers, and those differences are one reason that alcohol is thought to be the more dangerous impairing substance of the two, but make no mistake about it, any type of impairment behind the wheel is dangerous and can lead to a fatal accident.

Drunk drivers are more likely to believe they are fine to drive, and to engage in risk taking behaviors such as speeding, tailgating, and unsafe passing. Stoned drivers, on the other hand, are more likely to be aware of being impaired and try to compensate by driving more slowly, avoiding passing other vehicles, and allowing more room between their own vehicle and the car ahead of them.

However, studies have also found that stoned drivers suffer from other serious driving problems. They have trouble staying in their own lane, have slower reaction times and difficulty responding to unexpected obstacles, and are more prone to distraction.